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“I’m interested in history, and I’m interested in the people who owned my land,” said Ms. Zerwekh, who helped spur Cushing’s case through letters to presidents, senators and congressmen, her first being written in 1987 to then-Sen. William Proxmire, Wisconsin Democrat.

She’s been written up in the New York Times, and her dedication to the cause has been infectious for those around her. Delafield’s government has written a letter pleading Cushing’s case.

And in recent years, Ms. Zerwekh has been aided by David Krueger, who serves as Delafield’s point man in trying to push for recognition.

“Not only the United States, but the world changed because of what a handful of guys did right there. This was the largest two armies to fight on this continent, the largest bombardment on this continent,” Mr. Krueger said. “After a series of defeats the previous two years, the boys in blue held fast.”

Alonzo Cushing never married, leaving him without the descendants who usually push for legacy recognition. But pressure has built organically, including a Facebook page “Give Alonzo Cushing the Medal of Honor.”

A decade ago, the situation came to the attention of then-Sen. Russell D. Feingold, who in 2003 officially nominated Cushing for the Medal of Honor. Mr. Feingold lost his re-election bid in 2010, but in true bipartisan spirit, the cause was picked up by Wisconsin Sens. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, and Ron Johnson, the freshman Republican who defeated Mr. Feingold.

In the House, meanwhile, Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Ron Kind and Wisconsin Republican Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. pushed for action and, along with the support of some members of Congress from New York, eventually won passage of the amendment as part of the annual defense policy bill earlier this month.

The legislation must see action in the Senate, but the defense bill is deemed a must-pass measure, so barring any calamity or unforeseen opposition from the Pentagon or White House, Cushing should finally get his medal.

The Defense Department didn’t return messages seeking comment.

Now out of office, Mr. Feingold said that with Cushing finally nearing the ultimate military honor, credit belongs to the Wisconsinites who wouldn’t relent.

“Sir Francis Bacon said that truth is the daughter of time, but in this case truth had some help from a group of devoted citizens with immense pride in Alonzo Cushing’s actions and Wisconsin history,” Mr. Feingold said. “They deserve our congratulations as well.”

It’s not unprecedented for Congress to get involved in Medal of Honor matters, though more often it has been to waive the time limits for awarding the medal to troops who fought in Vietnam or World War II.

One time Capitol Hill did intervene on behalf of Civil War soldiers came five years ago, when Congress passed legislation urging the president to award the medal to Pvt. Philip G. Shadrach and Pvt. George D. Wilson, who were part of Andrews’ Raiders, the two dozen Union men who made a daring raid into the Confederacy to cut telegraph and railroad lines.

Eight of the men were hanged as spies, and some who escaped became the first to receive the newly created Medal of Honor in 1863. Eventually, almost all of the men eligible received the medal, but Shadrach and Wilson still remain unrecognized.

As for Cushing, he appears to be on a glide path. But there still remains the matter of who would actually accept the medal.

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